Most of the arepas I've had in my life have been dry and lifeless. Then again, essentially all the arepas I've eaten have come from my own kitchen, so I suppose I have only myself to blame. I've stayed away from them for a while now, waiting until I had a restaurant version that proved to me that they weren't always just rock hard pieces of dough. But I came upon this recipe from My Kitchen Movement and couldn't look away.
The process seemed a little involved at first. You have to crisp the dough, bake it, and then broil it. I thought briefly about cutting a step or two, but I'm glad I didn't. The procedure reminded me most of English muffins. They get a nice crisp outside and a tender inside. Finding the masarepa may be a problem for some, though I spotted it at my local Mexican market. Besides that, only cutting them in half presents any problems, but chorizo and cheese hide most faults. It's a great little sandwich.
- 1 1/4 cups white or yellow arepa flour (masarepa)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/3 cups hot water
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- 4 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 1/2 pound fresh chorizo
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- salt and black pepper
- 3/4 cup cooked black beans
- 3/4 cup melting white cheese like queso oaxaca
Preheat the oven to 300°F. Meanwhile, add a teaspoon of vegetable oil to a large skillet set over medium heat. Add the chorizo, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the onions and garlic, and cook until the onions caramelize. This should take between 5 and 10 minutes. When done, turn heat to very low.
Warm the black beans in a small saucepan.
Divide the arepa dough into four balls. Cover with plastic wrap and smash with the bottom of a skillet until they are about 4 inches across and 3/4 inch thick. Smooth the edges of each with your fingers.
Pour the rest of the oil into a large skillet set over medium heat. Add the arepas, or as many as will fit in one layer, and cook for 5 minutes per side. When they are done, place in the oven on a cookie sheet and cook for 10 minutes.
Slice the arepas in half horizontally. Add chorizo, beans, and a bit of cheese to each bottom. Set the top aside for the moment.
Turn the broiler on. Place the areapas without the tops underneath and cook until the cheese melts, about 30 seconds. Add the arepa top to each and serve.